Army is not merely a large aggregation of men with guns
in their hands. To make an army, you must have men and you
must have guns, but there is an additional, intangible ingredient
which is the deciding factor in its success or failure.
An army has a personality. It has a character of its own,
totally aside from the character of the individuals who
Stanley F. Horn,
The Army of Tennessee 
Representing a microcosm of the army of which it is the basic
building block, the Civil War regiment also epitomizes these words
of Stanley Horn. Although there existed, of course, famous
brigades, divisions, and even corps, the individual Confederate
fighting man always identified most closely with his regiment.
This is the story of one such regiment, the 2nd Mississippi
Infantry Volunteers, that served in the Army of Northern Virginia.
It fought in most of the Virginia army’s major battles, being
detached and absent only at Fredericksburg and Chancellorsville.
The 2nd Mississippi met its final demise a week before
Lee’s surrender at Appomattox when it was overwhelmed by the
Federal breakthrough of the Petersburg defenses on April 2, 1865
along the banks of a stream called Hatcher’s Run (see Figure
1 for a graphical history timeline).
Although the regiment has a character of its own, apart from
the individuals who comprise its ranks, the characteristics of those
individuals are important to gain a full understanding of its history.
Just who were the individuals who flocked to the banner of the 2nd
Mississippi? Unfortunately for historians, the men of the
regiment were apparently of the belief that “actions speak
louder than words.” Primary source material is scarce.
For a variety of reasons, not even one regimental “after action”
report is included in the Official Records,  and references to the regiment
in other regimental, brigade and divisional reports, Confederate
or Federal, are few and scattered. Unlike its “sister”
regiment, the Eleventh Mississippi, the Second did not include a
company composed mainly of college students like the University
Greys.  Had such been the case,
more written source material might now be available to help reconstruct
the regiment’s historical record.
Within these limitations then, the principal materials utilized
in this paper in an attempt to gain some insight into the makeup
of the regiment consisted, to a large extent, of the surviving individual
Compiled Military Service Records obtained on microfilm from the
National Archives.  From these thirteen rolls
of microfilm, more than 2,800 names were obtained. Of these names,
however, only 1,883 individuals were identified (the rest of the
names were AKA’s for these same individuals). Some individuals
were identified only by Federal prisoner of war records, and it
became obvious that several of these are misidentified. For
example, there was also a 2nd Mississippi Cavalry Regiment,
a 2nd Mississippi Infantry Battalion, and a 2nd
Missouri Infantry Regiment, which were sometimes incorrectly identified,
in the Federal records because of identical abbreviations in the
record “headers.” Some of these therefore ended up in
the 2nd Mississippi Infantry Regiment records (as an
example, “2 Miss” as a record header is not a unique
unit abbreviation unless additional details are available for clarification).
Where possible, these mistakes were noted in the “comments”
section of the complete roster summaries in Appendix D. However,
these types of errors were relatively few in number so a good estimate
for the total number of men who actually served in the regiment
(or its precursor state companies) at some point in time probably
lies between 1,750-1,800 individuals. 
After Mississippi seceded from the Union and began to raise companies
of state troops, the men from the then four counties of northeast
Mississippi – Tishomingo, Tippah, Itawamba and Pontotoc –
began enrolling in February and March of 1861.  These companies would initially
be assigned to the Second Regiment, Mott’s Brigade, State
Army of Mississippi. Once they became part of the 2nd
Mississippi Infantry Volunteers, the independent companies were
assigned letters as follows:
A – Tishomingo Riflemen, Tishomingo
B – O’Connor Rifles, Tippah
C – Town Creek Riflemen, Itawamba
D – Joe Matthews Rifles (or
Beck Rifles), Tippah County
E – Calhoun Rifles, Itawamba
F – Magnolia Rifles, Tippah
G – Pontotoc Minute Men, Pontotoc
H – Coonewah Rifles, Pontotoc
I – Cherry Creek Rifles, Pontotoc
K – Iuka Rifles, Tishomingo
Liberty Guards, Tippah County 
It should come as no great surprise that the compiled service records
show that most of the men identified themselves as farmers or planters.  Unfortunately, this categorization
does not necessarily allow this occupation to be classified under
the “skilled,” more or less “semiskilled,”
or “unskilled” breakdown as has been done in some other
recent regimental studies.  In order to successfully
do this, the service records would need to be correlated with census
data (especially property value and slave ownership) since the term
“farmer” could encompass several social classes ranging
from farm laborer all the way to plantation owner.
Of the 1,883 individual records, occupations were identified
for 1,422 (75.5%) of them. Of these, almost 64% identified
themselves as farmers. If “planters” are included
in the same category – which should probably be the case –
nearly 70% of the records would be included in this occupational
group. The next most numerous categories included “clerk”
at 4.4%, “student” at 3.5%, “carpenter”
at 3.2%, “laborer” at 3.0%, “mechanic” (sometimes
used interchangeably with carpenter) at 2.6%, “merchant”
at 2.1%, “teacher” at 1.8%, “blacksmith”
at 1.1%, and “physician” at 1.1%.
The mean (average) and median  ages were obtained from an analysis
of 1,511 (80.2%) of the 1,883 individual records. The mean
age was found to be 24.8 while the median age was 23. It should
be noted that these numbers include both the “early”
volunteers, and those recruits who signed up in the spring of 1862
under the implicit threat of the recently enacted Confederate Conscription
Act. If these groups are taken separately, the one-year volunteers’
(1,043 valid cases) mean age was 24.6 while the median was 23.
The later three-year recruits’ (452 valid cases) mean age
was somewhat older at 25.2, but the median age remained at 23 (see
Of interest is the plot of mean age versus company shown
in Figure 4. Note especially Company L (the eleventh company)
which was composed entirely of men recruited in the spring of 1862
from Tippah County. The mean age of the men in this company,
at almost 27.5 years old, is significantly higher than that of the
regiment taken as a whole, or even the group of later three-year
recruits as a whole. An examination of the marital status
of these groups also shows that the later recruits tended to have
a higher percentage of married men, and this was especially true
of Company L (reporting of marital status was rare).
In discussing potential differences in the group of early
volunteers versus the later three-year recruits, refer to Figure
5. It becomes quite apparent that there were really only two
significant time periods of heavy enrollment. The first was
during the late April and early May 1861 period, just prior to the
regiment being mustered into Confederate service (May 10, 1861).
The second period was the mid-February to mid-March 1862 time frame.
It was during this time that Company L was added and most of the
regiment’s original ten companies also recruited heavily.
In fact, based on the available service records (1,690 valid records
of 1,883 individuals), fully 60.7% of the regiment’s cumulative
strength was enrolled prior to muster into Confederate service at
Lynchburg, Virginia. By the end of November 1861, the total
enrollment had reached 69.6% of its final tally. During the
spring 1862 recruiting period (February 20-March 24, 1862), the
number jumped to 97.9% of the final total. Only a handful
of new recruits were added after this date, the last joining the
regiment on September 1, 1864.
Another interesting aspect of the makeup of the 2nd
Mississippi is the place of birth of its members. Surprisingly,
of the 983 records (52.2%) that provided place of birth information,
only 25.3% listed Mississippi. 22.3% gave Alabama; 19.5% listed
Tennessee; 13.8% South Carolina; 7.6% Georgia; 4.5% North Carolina;
2.0% Virginia; and 1.5% Ireland. These numbers are illustrated
in the histogram below (Figure 6).
An intriguing question is raised from an examination of the
average and median age of members of the regiment, grouped by place
of birth. On performing the basic statistical analysis, the
plot (Figure 7) is obtained.
Of note here is the mean age for the members of the regiment
born in Mississippi. At only 20.5 years of age, it is far
below the overall mean of 24.6. Also, the median age for this
group is only 20 years of age! As a matter of fact, if the
native-born Mississippians are excluded from the age statistics,
the mean age for the remainder of the regiment jumps to 26.7 and
the median to 25 years of age. At first, this appeared to
be some sort of mistake in the analysis or an anomaly in the data
from the compiled service records. However, with some additional
research into the early history of northeastern Mississippi, a plausible
explanation was found.
Prior to 1832, the northeastern part of the state belonged
to the Chickasaw Nation. On October 20, 1832, the Chickasaws
signed the Treaty of Pontotoc which ceded their territory to the
state of Mississippi and provided for Chickasaw relocation in the
West. However, it was 1837 before tribal leaders made a final
decision on where to relocate. Throughout this period, white
settlers had been unlawfully settling on Chickasaw lands.
By the early 1840’s, most of the Chickasaws had been relocated,
and the influx of new settlers increased with the organization
of nine counties from the former Indian lands. Thus, it could
be said that most of the military aged residents who were native
born within Tishomingo, Tippah, Pontotoc, and Itawamba counties,
would have been born no earlier than the late 1830’s to early
1840’s. This would explain the age variation when compared
with the older “pioneer settlers” from Tennessee, Alabama,
the Carolinas, and Georgia. 
Although a much more exhaustive statistical analysis could
be carried out on compiled service record data, for the purposes
of this paper, a presentation of some of more important descriptive
statistics was felt to be sufficient. Additional analysis
is planned for the “book-length” version of the regimental
history in the future.
A final example of a descriptive statistic that might be
of interest is a plot of the average age versus the enrollment rank
of the individual. Of course, individuals were promoted throughout
the existence of the regiment, but the age of selected officers
and NCO’s at the regiment’s formation might provide
some useful insights.
average age of the regiment’s members, overall, has previously
been discussed. As might be expected, the large number of
privates tends to drive the average age of the entire regiment downward.
Corporals, however, averaged more than 27 years
of age, and sergeants, 29. For 3rd Lieutenants,
we find the average age again drops to 26. 2nd
Lieutenants are older at almost 30. 1st Lieutenants
push the scales a bit higher to almost 31. Interestingly,
the Captains averaged more than 37 years of age, while the field
grade officers averaged only 31.5 (see Figure 8).
This brief introduction with some statistical information
from the compiled service records probably provides no “earth-shattering”
insights into the makeup of the regiment or the motivating factors
of the individuals who joined the 2nd Mississippi.
However, hopefully it will help provide, even to a small degree,
a somewhat better understanding of their regiment from its creation
to its ultimate destruction almost four years later.